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Thomas Sanderson

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My Conservatory - What will I use it for?

An obvious but very important question.

Will it be a sunroom ? or a dining room ? a play room ? a study ? a children's room ? a breakfast room ? ...

What you will use your new conservatory or sunroom for will ultimately determine the specification and cost. Broadly speaking I find most people fit into one of three categories in this respect.

Firstly we have those who require a simple occasional sunroom for use in warmer days only
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Secondly we have those that require a more "permanent" structure - an additional room that they may use most of the year. Budget may be a little limited and they accept they may have to make some compromises on the overall specification
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And finally we have those who require "true additional living space" that can be used all year round, morning, daytime and evening, no matter what the weather
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The first category of those who are looking for an occasional sunroom feature on their home is in many ways the easiest to cater for. Here I recommend full height/fully glazed models - usually in a lean-to style. This allows you to maximise the space internally and with the full height version gives the best view of your garden. A lot of people will put their conservatory down directly on their existing patio. This is quite OK but do remember that you do not have a damp course installed with this method - so do be prepared for some damp. If at all possible lay the conservatory in a slightly raised position (perhaps on a single course of brickwork) so as to minimise the effects of "standing water" [that's the water that accumulates on your patio during rain] and therefore reduce water/damp penetration.

An ideal choice for somebody looking for something better than a green house - somewhere to have coffee or read the newspaper on a sunny morning.

For those of us who want something approaching an all year round room but perhaps do not want to go too the expense of Pilkington "K" glass and the more advanced roofing options then I would make the following recommendations. Firstly it is almost always best to specify cavity dwarf walls, double glazed frames with a minimum of 16 mm polycarbonate in the roof. You can also add various heating methods and perhaps cavity wall insulation. A lot of people will tell you that this will give you an all year round room and indeed I do know people who are perfectly happy with these alternatives. However whilst you may be lucky enough to be able to use the conservatory during the day I would suggest a lot of people will find this alternative just a little chilly in the winter evenings (even with heating). This specification is also more prone to damp and condensation. This is especially so if you are north facing. By all means have this specification but do please recognise that it can have some short comings.

As an example, this specification can be used as an occasional dining room, a reading room, a study or for entertainment such as barbecues or early evening cocktails.

As I have said previously, there are many conservatory and sunroom owners who are very happy with the specification above and are able to use their conservatory as an all year round living space. However I personally would recommend that anybody who wants to be as sure as one can be of using their conservatory all year round also adds the following to their specification. Firstly (and I consider this essential) you should use a Low E type of glazing such as Pilkington "K" glass in your double glazing. You may also like to add Argon filled units to the specification for even better insulation. In the roof I always recommend glass for the glazing material - with Pilkington "K" glass off course (I do like to look at the stars at night!). As an alternative to glass in the roof you can use 24 or 25 mm polycarbonate. This product which has been relatively recently introduced has the advantage of being less expensive and easier to handle than a glass roof whilst being a very good insulator. For more information on this you should visit our "An all year Conservatory".

With Pilkington "K" glass and other additions such as 25 mm polycarbonate you really have something approaching an all year round living space. A dining room, a home office or an extra reception room - all available for you.

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